As I mentioned in the previous tip (Shooting at Bharatpur Then and Now I), the area didn't used to be an animal refuge. In the not-so-distant past, guns were a-blazin' in Bharatpur, with a variety of targets. In the previous tips, I talked of the massive "royal hunts" in which literally thousands of birds were bagged in a single day.
In this tip, I want to point out the sad fact that, until recently, Bharatpur hunters did THEIR part in driving Bengal Tigers to the brink of extinction. Some one hundred years ago, there used to be a solid population of these beautiful cats in the area. Now..... ah, not so many.
The good news is that park officials and guides tell me that there have been a couple of female tigers, one with cubs, seen in the deeper reaches of the park over the last couple of years. Here's hoping the tigers make a comeback.... and that they stay in the far, less-accessible parts of Keoladeo. :) Something tells me that a tiger would have no trouble catching a cycle rickshaw carrying a couple of tourists. :)
These days, the only real shooting in Bharatpur is done by hunters carrying Nikons and Canons, with quick telephoto lens. That's the way I like it.
There is no better place to put your digital camera and telephoto lens through its paces than today's Keoladeo National Park. If you've ever fancied yourself "National Geographic" material, you can earn your stripes shooting everything that flies in Keoladeo. That's shooting at Keoladeo in today's world.
Sadly, yesterday included shooting of a different kind. In the days before it became a wildlife sanctuary and national park, Keoladeo/Bharatpur was a royal hunting preserve, a place where the world's royalty would join the local maharajahs on a bird blasting afternoon. The numbers brought down by the royal parties are quite gruesome, even to a guy who grew up in a region of America very tied to hunting as a sport. Mind you, I really have nothing against hunting, per se. It's just that these hunts were shocking in the number of birds brought down.
What kind of numbers you ask? Well... there's a wall sign deep in the center of Keoladeo, and it lists the dates and hunt results of all the royal hunts conducted in the park over an 80-100 year period. The record was recorded by Viceroy Lord Lithlingow (whoever or whatever he is/was), where he and his party brough down some 4000 birds in a two day hunt. Jeez Louise, 4000 birds! Again, I have nothing against hunting as a reasonable sport, but... what good can come of dropping 4000 birds over two days?
There were some hunts that didn't go as well. One of my best friends from high school (hi Bob!) was actually born on Feb 22, 1956. I noticed that none other than the notorious Shah of Iran (Reza Pahlavi) and his party had a 1/2 day hunt on Bob's birthday, and they ONLY bagged about 150 birds. Hardly seems worth the trip from Teheran, does it?
In the photos below, you'll see both the Shah's paltry count AND the 1938 record of the Viceroy Lord Lithlingow. You'll also see that HRH the Crown Prince of Germany had a pretty good day back in 1910.
Fondest memory: I'm so glad that my visit to Bharatpur and Keoladeo happened in an era that saw the park being a wildlife sanctuary, and not a hunting preserve. It was so much more fun to see the birds flying, splashing and singing all around rather than just seeing dozens of sacks that contained 4000 dead birds. Then again, what do I know? I'm not royalty. :)
Well, assuming you're going to visit Keoladeo National Park and the world-renowned Ghana Birding Sanctuary, I HIGHLY recommend that you get yourself a top-notch birding manual before your visit. There are a variety of choices, as you certainly know.
My wife and daughter - who are bigtime birders - very much suggest that you go for the Princeton Field Guides. We found one basically dedicated for the birds of India and Sri Lanka. Another tip... be SURE to go online (Amazon, etc.) and find yourself a used copy. These guides generally don't have to be updated a great deal, so finding a $25 guide for pennies on the dollar because it's a couple of years old, is a good choice.
The perfect combination to insure you get the most out of your visit(s) to Keoladeo is an excellent and well-illustrated birding manual + a highly recommended professional birding/naturalist guide. (See my tip regarding Mr. Harish Singh for a great recommendation)
July to Sepetember
Nesting and breeding time,season of waterfowl.
October to February ,Winder is best time to visit.
Abundant migratory birds.
March to June.
Nesting and breeding of resident birds.
Summer it will be very hot,never think of going out 10-4pm.
.Wear dull colours to blend with nature..
In 1733 AD, Raja Badan Singh 's adopted son, Suraj Mal had shown signs of promise, when he captured the fort of Bharatpur from Khemkaran, the rival chief, whom he killed and thus laid the foundation of Bharatpur City. Maharaja Suraj Mal displayed immense courage and carved a niche for himself in the midst of political disorder. Gathering around him fiercely martial Jat peasants, he went from one success to another. He accompanied Emperor Muhammed Shah against Ali Muhammed Ruhela and in 1748 AD, at the battle of Bagru he led the Jaipur vanguard against the Marathas.
The history of Bharatpur dates back to the epic age, when the Matsya Kingdom flourished here in the 5th century BC The matsya were allies of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war. According to tradition the name of Bharatpur is traced to Bharat, the brother of lord Rama of Ayodhya whose other brother Laxman was given the high place of family deity of the ruling family of Bharatpur. His name also appears in the state seals and coat-of-arms.
Bharatpur, which is also called the Eastern gateway of Rajasthan, was found by Maharaja Suraj mal in 1733 AD. Raja Badan Singh’s adopted son, Suraj Mal had shown signs of promise, when he captured the fort of Bharatpur from Khemkaran, the rival chief, whom he killed and thus laid the foundation of Bharatpur City. Maharaja Suraj Mal displayed immense courage and carved a niche for himself in the midst of political disorder. Gathering around him fiercely martial Jat peasants, he went from one success to another. He accompanied Emperor Mohammed Shah against Ali Mohammed Ruhela and in 1748 AD, at the battle of Bagru he led the Jaipur vanguard against the Marathas.
Quoted from: Rajasthantourism.com
Entry fee Indian's Rs25.
Guides charges per hour
Group less than 5 Rs70.
Group More than 5 Rs 120
Rickshaw per hour Rs50
Photogrphy Video camara Rs200
You can go for boat ride to see birds very near in there home:).Have to book first ,first come first service.
Small boat Rs 75
Large boat Rs 150
Boating per person Rs 25.
This was not always a nature reserve, originally it was created to provide ample birds for the Maharaja`s shooting parties, early in the last century over 5000 fowl were shot in one day by a visiting member of the British aristocracy, and it was used as a shooting resort untill well into the second half of the 20th century
Fondest memory: it was nice to get off the rickshaw and stroll a little way, it is a very peaceful place, and very beautiful
Well over 300 species of birds inhabit or visit the bird sanctuary here, and there are also monkeys antelope and jackals here too
you can hire cycles or go around on rickshaws, if you are very lucky you will get a driver who will point out the various species of birds to you, and show you the best look out points
Vehicles aren't allowed into the park ~ you can easily walk through some of the paths or hire cycle rickshaws to get you to different areas.
The rickshaw drivers/guides seemed to vary a bit in knowledge of English, but they appear to know the name of every bird you spot, which is the important part.
Fondest memory: Sunset is the park was beautiful ~ and it turned into a photo I'm pretty fond of. It's a very peaceful place. . .a fantastic break from the more frantic pace of the cities.